Listening Away Assumptions, Fear, and Your List of Shoulds

by Bob Poole on November 15, 2010

“How are you?”

“I’m fine. Never been better.”

How many times a day do you have that type of exchange with someone either in person, on the phone, or in email? It’s already happened to me a half-dozen times this morning. I always assume the initial question is a social greeting and not really a question. I don’t think most people really want to take the time to listen to me – to find out how I really am feeling. And, that’s okay most of the time.

A lot of people aren’t really fine right now. And, they have been better. You might count yourself in that group. You might be wondering if you’re really doing the thing in life that makes a difference for both yourself and those around you. It’s easy to wonder when you hear and see so much negativity around you. However, I’m here to tell you that with over 60 years of experience as a human being, I find that there always will be negative people, negative stories, and those who have given up on making a difference and want you to join them. Ignore them. Run from them.

Running your own business, working in sales, shipping a new project, and making a difference are all challenging not just for you but for all of us. Don’t let the experts tell you any differently. It’s hard work. That’s why it’s called work. But, it can be fun and rewarding and you can make a difference. I bet you already are making one with someone.

But, maybe you’re feeling dissatisfied and scared. It’s good to be dissatisfied otherwise we’d never strive to make somethign even better and scared is normal. You were successful at something before you started this new project, career, or business. What was it about you that allowed you to be successful in the first place? Are you doing what led to that success now? You might be harboring assumptions that are stifling you now. Do you have a list of “shoulds” that are holding you back. What could they be?

Now, please go find a quiet place, sit down and relax and then ask yourself this question. Or, better yet, sit with a trusted friend or two and let them listen to the answer.

The question is, “How are you?”

And, now, give yourself and them the honest answer.

Talk about why you’re dissatisfied, why you’re scared and why you’re worried you might now be doing the “one thing” that will make a difference. Or, maybe how you’re afraid of the idea of even doing one thing.

Listen to your answers. Write them down – especially the assumptions and the shoulds. Ask yourself if you’re trying to force things to happen. Are you focused on the right thing?

And, what is the right thing? I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not:

  • You!
  • Monetary survival
  • Proving something to someone else or proving them wrong.
  • Getting the award, the recognition, the trophy.

Focusing on these things will only lead to failure. I suggest focusing on one thing for the time being.

Focus on providing extraordinary value to the people you come in contact with every moment of every day. Ask yourself:

  • What kind of value can I provide for this person?
  • How can I make their lives better without consideration for my own agenda?
  • Who can I connect them with who will bring more value to their lives?

That’s it. One primary focus and three questions.

And, now will you do me a favor? Will you answer these two questions for me? You can do it in the comments or send me a private email but I promise you that I will listen.

How are you?

What can I do to help you get what you want in life?

Thank you.

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